SurveyLA Gears Up to Head West

By David J. Barboza

The Pacific Palisades Business Block (HCM #276)

To say that the City of Los Angeles is big is an enormous understatement. Geographically speaking we’re talking about roughly 466 square miles (1,207 square kilometers) and 880,000 legal parcels. As a result, SurveyLA divides the City up into more manegable chunks that we call “groups.” Each group includes several Community Plan Areas (CPAs), which are areas defined by the City Planning Department. The order of surveying the City is based on several factors, such as trying to make sure survey results are available to inform the updating of Community Plans.

There are nine survey groups in all, and SurveyLA is gearing up to start Group 5. Group 5 includes the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades, Bel Air-Beverly Crest & Westchester-Playa Del Rey CPAs, all located in the western part of the City. Gearing up means that the Office of Historic Resources has requested and will be evaluating bids (from an on-call list of consulting firms) for Group 5 fieldwork, research and outreach.

Brentwood-Pacific Palisades

The Brentwood-Pacific Palisades CPA

Roughly speaking, the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades CPA is located west of the 405, north of the City of Santa Monica and Pacific Coast Highway, east of Topanga Canyon Blvd. and south of Mulholland Dr. Looking through our list of Historic-Cultural Monuments (HCMs) for this CPA (check out the photos), you can see two Case Study Houses, the Bradbury House and the Cliff May Experimental Building among other Monuments. Remember, SurveyLA isn’t re-surveying places that have designations, but it is interesting to get a sense of what places have inspired sucessful preservation efforts in this CPA. Who knows what hidden gems lie in store for survey teams? If you have information on places that shed light on the social, cultural or architectural history of this area, we’d love to hear from you!

Bel Air-Beverly Crest

The Bel Air-Beverly Crest CPA

The Bel Air-Beverly Crest CPA is situated north of Sunset, east of the 405, south of Mulholland, and trails off into the mountains northwest of the City of West Hollywood. The HCMs here are less numerous, but still interesting. There’s another Case Study House here as well as Greenacres, the former estate of legendary silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. Greenacres is also notable because the main house is actually split between the Cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. We’ve gotten some good tips for this area on MyHistoricLA.org, including one for the house of Bugsy Siegel, who was a notorious LA gangster over half a century ago. The survey teams will have that information at their fingertips in the field.

Westchester-Playa Del Rey

The Westchester-Playa Del Rey CPA

This oddly-shaped CPA hugs the west, north, and east sides of LAX, and is mostly west of the 405 and south of the 90 freeway. This area is low on the HCM count with just one: the Loyola Theater. None of the City’s Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs, or historic districts) are in any part of Group 5 territory. Although SurveyLA doesn’t directly result in designating historic resources, it can help lay the groundwork for preservation efforts and thoughtful land use decisions. If you live work or play in this part of town SurveyLA would definitely love to hear from you about places that have something to say about our history.

Social Media Update

Things will likely be slowing down at this blog, the Facebook page and our Twitter feed because my SurveyLA contract is almost up (although our weekly MyHistoricLA.org emails will keep going strong thanks to the hard work of OHR Intern James Ramirez). However, social media is a part of the Group 5 contracting process, so things should pick up again in October. On a personal note, this might be my last blog post for SurveyLA, so I’d like to thank everybody here at OHR and at Historic Resources Group. I’ve learned a lot working with all of you these past several months, and it’s been a blast peppering the internet with my SurveyLA-related thoughts!

Historic preservation is a fascinating part of urban planning. Planning often fixates more on issues like traffic, the environmental and economic impacts of different built environments and the controversies over how much of what land uses go where. Preservation is a set of values and methods for analyzing the built environment that can make our City a more interesting place. It can and should enrich the broader project of figuring out what kind of City we want for ourselves and our children, whether you’re a New Urbanist or suburbia is more your style. Ultimately, having the information needed to make thoughtful decisions about our historic resources is what SurveyLA is all about.

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